Frugal GM Review: Claws of Madness Digital Maps Set
This download, The Claws of Madness Digital Maps Set, is a companion piece to...you guessed it, The Claws of Madness, which is an adventure for 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Not to knock 5E, but I haven't picked up anything (deliberately) for that edition and I don't intend to. Heck, I only learned this adventure was for 5E while typing out this paragraph.
So we have an adventure I'm not interested in for a system I don't particularly care about, but it does seem to be popular since The Claws of Madness is currently a "Best Copper Seller" over at DTRPG. Good news for the publisher LoreSmyth.
You might be wondering why I picked up this map set to begin with....
I picked it up because the product's download page seemed a bit "wonky". I didn't realize that DTRPG lists the newer editions as "Dungeons & Dragons" and/or "D&D-OGL". What I should have been looking for is "1e (AD&D)" or "2e (AD&D)"... ok, that's my bad. I did notice that the listing showed it was a 6 page Watermarked PDF, which didn't seem right for digital maps.
Since digital maps are pretty system-neutral I decided to check this out, especially since it was PWYW. The download is actually a .zip file containing 5 maps which are actually .jpeg images. The maps are essentially A3 sized maps (297 x 420 mm or 11.7 x 16.5 in), but are actually a hair larger, presumably with some bleed area to be trimmed off.
Of the five maps presented, two are copies, with one set (of 2 maps) being a bit more "subdued" and the other set full-color art pieces. The fifth map is a region map that I don't think you need for the adventure. Since these maps are 300 dpi and rather large (format-wise) changing the resolution to make the grids suitable for Virtual Table Top use is easy to do.
Aside from the download page listing, which I already know can be problematic, I only have two real criticisms. The first one has to deal with the region map, which contains a pretty useless legend. Don't get me wrong, the map is nice, but the legend really isn't needed and detracts from the map overall. The only other criticism I have is that the in-game maps have numbered rooms. While you need them for running the game, if including an additional set of these maps, I'd have preferred to have one without room number since I can reference the other map set if needed. Heck, getting rid of the grid lines would be a nice touch as well.
The Claws of Madness Digital Maps Set and could see re-purposing them for my own needs. I liked that the publisher included these base maps and extra maps as a PWYW download. If I was in to 5E that would probably have been enough to make me want to look at the adventure these maps came from, which kind of feels like that is the point of this download, at least to me.
January 9, 2017 Update:
I got word via the contact widget that the publisher is going to update the map and incorporate my suggestions. Cool beans....